An Autobiography On Louis Armstrong Essay Research — страница 2

  • Просмотров 330
  • Скачиваний 9
  • Размер файла 19

and an ornate bravura style. When Armstrong put this concept of music to work with the ideals of jazz, it resulted in a much more flamboyant and personalized musical form than the ensemble playing of the new New Orleans jazz bands. Not surprisingly, this precocious young cornet player attracted the attention of the city’s jazz masters, one of whom, Joe ‘King’ Oliver, was sufficiently impressed to become his musical coach and occasional employer. By the time that Armstrong came under Oliver’s wing, around 1917, the older man was generally regarded as the best cornetist in New Orleans and few challenged his position as ‘the King’. Already displaying signs of great ambition, Armstrong knew that he needed the kind of advancement and kudos King Oliver could offer, even

though Oliver’s style of playing was rather simplistic and close to that of other early New Orleans cornetists, such as near-contemporaries Keppard, Freddie and Buddy Petit. Much more important to Armstrong’s career than musical tuition was the fact that his association with Oliver opened many doors that might otherwise have remained closed. Of special importance was the fact that through Oliver, the younger man was given the chance to take his talent out of the constrictions of one city and into the wide world beyond the bayous of Louisiana. In 1919 Oliver had been invited to take a band to Chicago, and by 1922 his was the most popular ensemble in the Windy City. Back in New Orleans, Armstrong’s star continued to rise even though he declined to stay with Ory when the

latter was invited to take his band to Los Angeles. Armstrong, chronically shy, preferred to stay in the place that he knew; but when Oliver sent word for him to come to Chicago, he went. The reason he overcame his earlier reluctance to travel was in part his ambition and also the fact that he trusted Oliver implicitly. From the moment of Armstrong’s arrival in Chicago the local musical scene was tipped onto its ear; musicians raved about the duets of the King and the young pretender and if the lay members of the audience did not know exactly what it was that they were hearing, they certainly knew that it was something special. For two years Oliver and Armstrong made musical history and, had it not been for the piano player in the band, they might well have continued doing so

for many more years. The piano player was Lillian Hardin, who took a special interest in the young cornetist and became the second major influence in his life. By 1924 Armstrong and Hardin were married and her influence had prompted him to quit Oliver’s band and soon afterwards to head for New York. In New York, Armstrong joined Henderson, Fletcher’s orchestra, bringing to that band a quality of solo playing far exceeding anything the city had heard thus far in jazz. His musical ideas, some of which were harmonies he and Oliver had developed, were also a spur to the writing of Henderson’s staff arranger, Don (The) Redman. Armstrong stayed with Henderson for a little over a year, returning to Chicago in 1925 at his wife’s behest to star as the ‘World’s Greatest

Trumpeter’ with her band. Over the next two or three years he recorded extensively, including the first of the famous Hot Five and Hot Seven sessions and as accompanist to the best of the blues singers, among them Smith, Bessie, Smith, Clara and Smith, Trixie. He worked ceaselessly, in 1926 doubling with the orchestras of Carroll Dickerson and Erskine Tate, and becoming, briefly, a club owner with two of his closest musical companions, Hines, Earl and Zutty Singleton. By the end of the decade Armstrong was in demand across the country, playing important engagements in Chicago, New York, Washington, Los Angeles (but not New Orleans, a city to which he hardly ever returned). By the 30s, Armstrong had forsaken the cornet for the trumpet. He frequently worked with name bands yet

equally often travelled alone, fronting whichever house band was available at his destination. He worked and recorded in Los Angeles with Les Hite ’s band (in which the drummer was Hampton, Lionel ), and in New York with Webb, Chick. In 1932 and 1933 he made his first visits to Europe, playing to largely ecstatic audiences, although some, accustomed only to hearing him on record, found his stage mannerisms – the mugging and clowning, to say nothing of the sweating – rather difficult to accommodate. From 1935 onwards Armstrong fronted the Russell, Luis orchestra, eclipsing the remarkable talents of the band’s leading trumpeter, Henry ‘Red’ Allen. In 1938 Louis and Lillian were divorced and he married Alpha Smith. However, by 1942 he had married again, to Lucille